To begin with a quote from good сэр Tolstoi :
There is only one explanation of this fact: it is that the art of the society in which these versifiers lived is not a serious, important matter of life, but is a mere amusement. And all amusements grow wearisome by repetition. And, in order to make wearisome amusement again tolerable, it is necessary to find some means to freshen it up. When, at cards, ombre grows stale, whist is introduced; when whist grows stale, écarté is substituted; when écarté grows stale, some other novelty is invented, and so on. The substance of the matter remains the same, only its form is changed. And so it is with this kind of art. The subject-matter of the art of the upper classes growing continually more and more limited, it has come at last to this, that to the artists of these exclusive classes it seems as if everything has already been said, and that to find anything new to say is impossible. And therefore, to freshen up this art, they look out for fresh forms.
Of course, Tolstoyi was referring to Baudelaire, not yours truly, and of course Leo also missed the rapidly parabolising growth of global narratives born of an explosion of the industrial age “exclusive classes,”ii but his warning is no less valid. Boring shit is boring. So don’t be boring.
This being granted, the artistic expression that is Contravex continues to exist at the estuary between the past, present, and future.iii Complexity is exploding all around us, but it’s here that I, and dear readers, carve out time for reflection, art, and conversation,iv for how else are we to maintain our precious sanity, and therefore our adaptability, in this rapidly changing global landscape, if we do not protect these few oases. Yes, our time together may otherwise have economic value, and yes, it’s very hard to argue that blogging (or reading a blog) has an obvious and immediate ROI, but everything is connected and everything is relational, so what makes you think you can calculate anything anyways ? The possible higher order impacts break calculators.
So as we approach the 11th anniversary of this blog, it’s time to celebrate that I’ve recently hit 1`000`000 published words on these pages.v Since I’m a much slower writer (and thinker?) than you might imagine, the back-of-the-envelope maths tell us that this translates to about two full working years – call it 4`000 hours, round figures. That’s a lot of time. That investment sometimes bears fruit, sometimes not, but it’s not exactly boring.
For as long as that’s the case, here you’ll find me, every five days (at the current clip), with another post.vi
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- From Leo Tolstoy’s “What is art?”, first published in 1897 when the author was 69 years old and already very clearly a crotchety old man. ↩
- Malthus was similarly ill-timed, for which he will never be forgiven nor forgotten. ↩
- Have you ever wondered why hedge fund managers like Steve Cohen or J. Tomilson Hill or Kenneth Griffin are such prolific art collectors ? Did you think it was because they lead such soulless professional lives that they can only make heavenly amends by spending untold sums on blue chip art and then donating the pieces to galleries for the taxable benefit ? Perhaps it’s because hedge fund managers are professional soothsayers, rewarded handsomely for seeing the future with clarity, who derive equal pleasure from “conversing,” as it were, with artists who also see the future with clarity, as the best artists inherently do ? Or perhaps because these billionaires are married and their wives made them do it ? ↩
- Even if this conversation is just me hyperlinking articles to one another, it’s no less important… to me! And possibly to internet archeologists of the future, who knows. ↩
- That’s a lot to sift through. Thankfully it’s all archived. ↩
- Of course, this desire for excitement, or contrarianism even, can lead to a certain intentional obtuseness, but this is inevitable for as long as I’m disposed towards conversations with fewer rather than with more people, perhaps because it’s the easier task ? To quote Tolstoy again :
When a universal artist (such as were some of the Grecian artists or the Jewish prophets) composed his work, he naturally strove to say what he had to say in such a manner that his production should be intelligible to all men. But when an artist composed for a small circle of people placed in exceptional conditions, or even for a single individual and his courtiers,—for popes, cardinals, kings, dukes, queens, or for a king’s mistress,—he naturally only aimed at influencing these people, who were well known to him, and lived in exceptional conditions familiar to him. And this was an easier task, and the artist was involuntarily drawn to express himself by allusions comprehensible only to the initiated, and obscure to every one else. In the first place, more could be said in this way; and secondly, there is (for the initiated) even a certain charm in the cloudiness of such a manner of expression. This method, which showed itself both in euphemism and in mythological and historical allusions, came more and more into use, until it has, apparently, at last reached its utmost limits in the so-called art of the Decadents. It has come, finally, to this: that not only is haziness, mysteriousness, obscurity, and exclusiveness (shutting out the masses) elevated to the rank of a merit and a condition of poetic art, but even incorrectness, indefiniteness, and lack of eloquence are held in esteem.
It’s a blog’s only defence, really. I don’t have the luxury of Virgil, Banksy, or Richard Mille of limiting production and blessing supply upon only the worthy. With a blog, the “worthy” are self-selecting based on the only true measures of freedom and success – intellectual curiosity and time. Hey, this worked as a sorting mechanism for Ancient Greek citizens and it’s not like biology has improved since then. Or have you got a better algo ? ↩